William Nevison Robley alias Laing Morrison

On the 12th of August 1916 William Nevison Robley using the alias of Laing Morrison, clerk, born in Bendigo, Victoria aged 29 years and 9 months enlisted in the army. He listed his father as James Morrison of Kings Park, South Australia (later changed to Victoria) as next of kin and gave his present address as "Mawla" Miller Street, Boxhill, Victoria.

He was killed in action at Polygonwood on the 26th of September 1917 and memorial details are recorded at 29 The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium.

Robley had made a will on the 4th of June 1917 bequeathing all of his estate to his sister Mrs Martha Robley of "Mawla" Miller Street, Bendigo. The inventory of his personal effects under the name of Private L Morrison, number 4089, 29th Battalion, AIF comprised of 2 discs, whistle, purse, coins, note book, and prayer book were delivered to and receipted by Maude Robley on the 8th of October 1918.

Prior to this the attempts made by the Department of the Army had failed to locate James Morrison, the listed father of Robley, so enquiries were made with Mrs Maude Robley for any assistance. She called at the 3rd Military Headquarters on the 29th of October 1917 and told Colonel Hawker that the next of kin was on active service and any further enquiries should be directed to her.

On the 6th of May 1918 a Major in charge of the Army Base Records wrote to Mr J.H. Robley of Gilbert Street, Gilberton South Australia advising that they had received information that the late No 4089 Private L. Morrison had enlisted under an assumed name, his correct one being William Nevison Robley. The army requested that in order for records to be adjusted and properly amended they required a Statutory Declaration setting forth the true particulars be submitted.

A statutory declaration from Vernon Herman Robley, a lieutenant in the AIF at Victoria Barracks, Melbourne provided this information. He said he was the brother of William Nevison Robley who had enlisted under the name of Laing Morrison and that William Robley's father was J.H. Robley of 2 Gilbert Street, Gilberton.

A letter was next received by the Army purporting to be from J.H. Robley but signed by V.H. Robley asking for a copy of the will of "Private Laing Morrison" as the writer was presently amending his present will and the contents of the will may influence the writer in making the new will.

The enquiry continued as on the 26th of April 1922 a Major from the Army Base records wrote to "Mrs M.Robley of Malwa, Miller Street, Boxhill advising her that the writer had received information that the late Private Laing Morrison was in fact William Nevison Robley and could she give them an early reply.

The matter had still not been resolved as the Department of the Army had internal correspondence recording that a letter had been received from a solicitor acting for Mr J.H. Robley, that Letters of Administration had been taken out in relation to certain property of William Nevison Robley and they required a death certificate to complete the matter.

Records reveal that George Laing Robley aged 18 years of 2 Gilbert Street, Gilberton enlisted in the AIF on the 1st of December 1918. He gave his occupation as a bank officer and listed his next of kin as James Robley (his father).

On the 22nd of April 1918 Vernon Herman Robley aged 24 years of Gilbert Street, Gilberton re-enlisted in the army pay corps. He listed his father as James H Robley of Gilbert Street, Gilberton. Vernon Robley apparently suffered with severe rheumatism.

On the 15th of March 1916 Henry Foster Robley aged 27 years and 10 months of 2 Miller Street, Boxhill enlisted in the army. He gave his birth place as South Australia and listed his wife Elizabeth M Robley as his next of kin. He was a carpenter by occupation. He returned to Australia from overseas on the 7th of July 1919.

In researching the above information I found reference to a letter written by Mary Ann Robley nee Frood, who in 1894 wrote to the Victoria Police asking for police help in regaining possession of documents being held by an Adelaide solicitor, George F Mitchell. These papers related to her marriage in 1880 and papers relating to the false registration of the birth of William Nevison Robley and Louise Victoria by their mother Louise Charlotte Robley nee Klapproth.

The wife of James H Robley of Gilberton is listed as Louise.

The only other record relating to these matters is that another researcher has listed that Mary Ann Frood was born in 1857 and died in Ballarat, Victoria in 1938. Her parents are listed as William Frood and Matilda Glanville Colwell. She is listed as marrying an unknown Robley.

Trevor C. Hoodless, August 2008.